Good Friday Appeal big WIN

Herald Sun newspaper reports this morning Scud's loss is RCH's gain. THE kids were the big winners of Australia's Davis Cup loss to Sweden yesterday.

The Aussies were bundled out in the first round of the tournament after Mark Philippoussis was trounced in straight sets by Jonas Bjorkman at Memorial Drive in Adelaide.

But the shock loss means Channel 7 can now honour its non-stop commitment to this year's Good Friday Appeal.

An Australian victory would have set up a second round Davis Cup meeting against the USA starting on Good Friday -- interrupting Seven's traditional all-day telethon.

Seven last week revealed its intention to abandon part of the appeal in favour of the Davis Cup tie -- a move organisers feared would slice into donations for the Royal Children's Hospital.

But a Seven spokesman said the network could now shelve its plans to combine the two events.

"It will be business as usual . . . we will provide uninterrupted coverage right through the day,"program manager Jamie Martinovich said.

"It was disappointing Australia got beaten. We all like to see them succeed, but on the positive side we can now push ahead with an uninterrupted coverage."

Good Friday Appeal executive director Christine Unsworth said she was also disappointed by the Davis Cup result but delighted for the appeal.

"I'm a bit of a tennis fan actually, so I'm disappointed for the players,"Ms Unsworth said.

"It was a bit of a dilemma."

Ms Unsworth said she had been overwhelmed by the public support shown for the appeal during the past week.

Australia's first-round loss comes just two months after Philippoussis steered his country to Davis Cup glory at Melbourne Park against Spain.

The Scud -- needing to win to give Lleyton Hewitt a chance to clinch the tie in a deciding fifth rubber -- went down 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

Philippoussis also lost in straight sets on Friday to Swedish veteran Thomas Enqvist -- his Cup defeats coming after his disappointing fourth-round exit at the Australian Open.

Scud's loss is RCH's gain
Michael Warner

Story - Davis Cup threat to Good Friday Appeal

Herald Sun newspaper reports this morning, Davis Cup is threatening to spoil this year's Good Friday Appeal with Channel 7 poised to gut its telethon in favour of the tennis.

The article portrays Channel 7 as the bad guy for the decision and supports its stand in "An appeal to Seven"with Seven prides itself on being Melbourne oriented and should pressure tennis organisers to switch from Good Friday. Sick children are a greater priority.

Common sense tells us Channel 7 expects a much larger audience by televising the matches, therefore increasing the chances of those contributing to the appeal and the final total.

We hope Melbourne and Victoria again supports The Good Friday Appeal and Channel 7 as they have been doing since 1931.

The article continues...

The annual television broadcast helps raise millions of dollars for the Royal Children's Hospital.

But Seven yesterday revealed it would abandon its traditional non-stop telethon to show tennis on Good Friday if Australia wins its opening round tie against Sweden this weekend.

Appeal organisers fear the move will hurt efforts to match last year's record $9.8 million fund-raiser.

Channel 7 plans a truncated TV appeal, to be interrupted for up to seven hours by the tennis from Sydney.

Angry parents of Royal Children's Hospital patients yesterday called on Channel 7 to dump the tennis.

But the TV station stood by the Davis Cup, promising to cross to the telethon during breaks in the tennis.

Seven chief Ian Johnson refused to guarantee the network would cross to all the usual Good Friday community fund-raising events.

"No. And why should I?"he told the Herald Sun.

"It used to be about 14 hours. Now it will be something like 28 hours - interrupted by tennis, I agree."

The Good Friday Appeal is run year-round by The Herald & Weekly Times, publisher of the Herald Sun, which established it in 1931.

The Seven telecasts have been held every year since 1957.

Two matches between Australia and either the US or Austria are likely to be played in Sydney from 11am on Good Friday if Australia defeats Sweden this weekend.

The Good Friday Appeal telethon attracted an average of 150,000 daytime viewers last year.

But Seven expects a much larger TV audience if Australia plays the US, the most likely opponent, on Good Friday.

The Davis Cup match between Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt at Rod Laver Arena last September won Seven 305,000 viewers.

Seven's efforts yesterday to defuse community outrage by promising regular crosses to the hospital during the tennis and extra screening on Thursday night and Friday morning failed.

Sandra Cosoleto, whose son Matthew was saved by Royal Children's Hospital surgeons as a baby, accused Seven of putting tennis before children's lives.

"Watching a tennis ball going back and forth cannot compare to the life of a child,"she said.

"They should get their priorities straight and the children's hospital should be their first priority."

Matthew, 5, was born with a cyst half the size of his head in his neck and shoulder and endured a 7 1/2-hour operation to have it removed when he was seven months old.

He wore a specially fitted helmet for several months afterward to correct his skull shape, and has had another 10 operations since.

If Australia beats Sweden this weekend, Seven will start the telethon two hours earlier on Friday, at 7.30am.

It will run an extra 90-minute Good Friday program on Thursday night before returning to normal programming overnight.

The phone rooms would open for an extra three hours on Thursday, from 9pm until midnight, and open at 7.30am on Friday instead of 9am.

Appeal organisers are trying to arrange an automated phone line for donors to pay by credit card from midnight Thursday to 7.30am on Friday.

During breaks in the matches, Seven will cross to the hospital and phone room, and during the tennis phone numbers will appear on the screen.

Good Friday Appeal executive director Christine Unsworth said organisers were working with Seven to minimise any impact of the clash.

"This is an extraordinary event and hopefully won't be repeated,"she said. "Of course there are some concerns because the telethon is an important part of the year-long appeal."

Mr Johnson predicted the Good Friday Appeal would beat last year's $9.8 million.

"Anyone who thinks they'll make less money is just being plain stupid,"he said. "We've been doing it for near enough to 50 years and we will never back away from our commitment."

Mr Johnson dismissed the community outrage.

"The fuss it's caused is just ridiculous,"he said.

Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard said the International Tennis Federation, the organisers of the Davis Cup, would be loath to program one tie outside the dates it sets globally.

"It's difficult to have a delay on matches on the Friday when it's a 24-hour telethon you're talking about,"he said.

International Tennis Federation spokesman Nick Imison said the 2004 tennis calendar was more crowded than usual because of the Olympic tennis tournament.

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Good Friday Appeal big WIN

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